Contentious issues prompt people to use all sorts of tools to make their case. I have found that in a world of instant information and competition to be noticed any side of a debate is easily characterized by its lowest denominator.
Case in point would be the protests over abortion legislation in Texas. Those opposed to the legislation were desperate to make a case and planned to drop urine, feces and paint on opposing legislators.
Credibility is the first victim of ridiculous protests. Whether it be the shooting of an abortionist, the cursing of a legislator, the smoke-bombing of an abortion clinic, or the poop-protests of a faction, there is a distraction and misrepresentation of a position by such extreme acts.
As we well know, both sides of the abortion debate have their zealots. The shooting of the abortionist received condemnation from mainstream pro-life groups. The illogic of taking life as a way of protecting life is apparent to most.
So also do the defenders of women’s health suffer greatly in credibility when their disciples want to “poop on the parade” of its opponents. Really?!?! What does that have to do with their position of defending women’s rights?
Every side of a debate wants to appear credible and worthy of a hearing. If there is a sound, logical and justifiable reason to permit the killing of unborn children past 20 weeks’ gestation in the womb, is the best argument a jar of pee? If there is a strong case to be made for permitting abortions from doctors without admission privileges at nearby hospitals does a bucket of paint make the argument crystal clear?
The pro-life community has little interest in “common ground” with any abortion advocates who have, within their camp, those who chant “hail satan” in opposition to pro-life assemblies. Likewise, advocates of abortion rights have little interest in talks with pro-life folks who might up and shoot them.
All of this melee makes for entertaining media. Each side will take the lowest denominator of the opposition and flaunt it about to the shock and inspiration of its adherents. The mainstream media, which cannot help but to be biased (it is, after all, run by people with opinions) will show the antics of those with whom it disagrees and downplay the crazy stunts of those with whom they do agree.
It is a pipe-dream to suggest someday the abortion issue will be settled once and for all, and both sides will go their separate ways. It is clear the zealots from either side of the aisle will not let it rest.
The solution is relevant candor and honesty. The abortion debate has matured over the years. Both sides now admit that abortion is the termination of a human life. The issue today is whether life has absolute and equal value or if unborn life is subordinate to a woman’s autonomy and her need to make decisions regarding her own health. None of this has anything to do with shooting abortionists or dumping waste upon the heads of opponents.
The day must come when women’s health decisions need to be protected and while doing so does not deny an unborn child his or her protection to live. It is a tough issue – almost complete opposites. But if there is to be any progress made in the abortion debate it must begin by disowning the zealots on both sides whose antics have nothing to do with the facts at hand.